The piece serves two purposes – to cast rail in the worst possible light while simultaneously lauding HOT lanes, but as we pointed out the other day, the whole HOT lane idea rests on a highly questionable principle.
HOT lanes are toll roads, and the way they allegedly keep traffic flowing is by setting tolls high enough to price many people out of using the lanes. In other words, as congestion increases, tolls are increased to discourage enough drivers from entering so the lanes remain relatively free of traffic for those who can afford to pay.
If traffic starts to slow because “too many” cars are on the system, tolls for new people preparing to enter the lanes are jacked up and will continue to be raised as long as it takes to price enough drivers out of the market and thin the traffic.
That hardly seems like a progressive, all-inclusive and equitable way to treat the traveling public, but that’s what Dr. Prevedouros and Mr. Cliff Slater advocate as a way to plan for Honolulu’s cross-town traffic for two, three and four generations from now.
(The more we hear about HOT lanes, the more they sound like a commuting variation of “the early bird gets the worm.” The early commuter gets the cheaper ride, so for that reason alone, rail beats HOT lanes hands down. The price to ride the train won’t vary during the day. Sleep in, rail riders!)
Dr. Prevedouros’s article reaches curious conclusions about HOT lanes’ ability to allegedly provide better access than rail to what he calls “non-work activities.” He dismisses rail’s appeal for shopping, social visits, night clubbing and the like, then drops this stunner:
“Rail loses 1 point (in his scoring) for being unable to be of any use during an emergency such as freeway closure, flooding, hurricane and tsunami.”
We have to wonder how Dr. Prevedouros could reach that conclusion. Honolulu’s elevated rail system will be completely independent of streets, roads, highways and freeways. If anything, rail would be of tremendous use during freeway closures, which presumably could easily include any HOT lanes that might be built. Rail will be a congestion-free way to travel unimpeded by such closures.
Let’s look at his other imagined emergencies – hurricanes, flooding and tsunamis. We’ll call it a draw between rail and HOT lanes during hurricanes; nobody should be out in 120-mph winds. But what about flooding and (rare) tsunamis?
In such emergencies, Honolulu rail would be elevated 30 feet above the flooded streets that cars using HOT lanes eventually would have to navigate once they left their elevated platform. Advantage rail!
We’ll continue examining Dr. Prevedouros’s views as expressed in his recent article in a day or two.